Critique Group Tips and Guidelines

Characters

  • Do you like them?
  • Do you relate to them?
  • Do the characters want something?
  • Do the characters evolve?
  • Can you picture them?
  • Is each character unique?

 Plot

  • Is it interesting?
  • Do you want to find out more?
  • What is the major conflict?
  • Does enough/too much happen?
  • Does it flow?
  • Does it move forward?
  • Is it too fast/too slow?
  • Does the tension increase?
  • Does it have a strong climax?
  • Is anything missing/unnecessary?

Theme

  • Is there a lesson to the story?
  • Is the lesson too poignant?
  • It the lesson consistent?

Point of View

  • What type of  POV is used?
  • First/Third (Second is rarely used and rarely successful)
  • Close or distant?
  • Is the POV consistent?
  • Is the voice appealing? Reliable? Natural?

 Description

  • Too much/too little?
  • Can  you see it?
  • Repetitive?
  • Are verbs and nouns used over adverbs and adjectives?
  • Is figurative language used successfully? Are clichés avoided?

 Dialogue

  • Is there too much/too little?
  • Does it sound natural?
  • Does it ramble?
  • How is the dialogued staged within the scene?
  • Are the tags (he said, she muttered, etc.) unobtrusive?

Setting

  • Is the place and time consistent?
  • What does the environment look like?
  • What is the mood of the place and time?

 

Critique Group Guidelines

Providing and receiving critiques are two of the most difficult tasks writers face.

Although uncomfortable at times, critiques helps us become better writers.  I know this from firsthand experience.  I’d like to share some of my experiences.

LISTENING

Listening:  Listening to someone else’s work is difficult.  Our mind may drift to our to-do list, our own stories, or even a memory.  When I find myself not focused, I try to bring my mind back to the present and listen.  Sometimes, taking notes and jotting down comments helps me stay in the moment.

Listening:  Listening to someone critique my work is difficult.  When put on paper, my words are like my children.  I lovingly and painstakingly pick each one and place it into a story.  I review it, I edit it, I approve it.  But hearing someone critique it is challenge because it feels like a personal attack.  It isn’t, nor is it criticism…it’s a critique.  A critique should be listened to.  If I feel emotional during a critique, I take notes and  jot down comments to help me ask for clarification and understanding of the speaker’s opinion.  Growing a thick skin isn’t easy…or necessary.  But listening is.

Advice from the King of Horror

And, not all critiques are valid.  Stephen King once said:

Show your piece to a number of people – ten, let us say. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Smile and nod a lot. Then review what was said very carefully. If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story – a plot twist that doesn’t work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles – change that facet. It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with your piece, it is. If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it. But if everyone – or even most everyone – is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.

  1. #1 by Gay Finkelman on November 4, 2013 - 10:21 am

    Thanks for the most valuable reminders about critiquing! I will share them with my lifewriters at tomorrow’s Turning Memories into Memoirs class!

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